22 September 2010

Forefront Wines

The line of Forefront Wines is made by the Andrus family from a number of regions throughout the west coast. Famous for their Pine Ridge winery in Napa, the Forefront wines explore some interesting blends. (Correction 02/15/11: The Forefront brand was produced by Pine Ridge Vineyards to pay tribute to the Andrus family; the original founders. The Andrus family did not have a hand in the wine making or brand production.)

2008 Forefront Cabernet Sauvignon
$24, 14.1% abv
The vineyard makeup is 84% Napa, 9% San Luis Obispo, 7% Lake Counties, while the grape proportions are 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 5% Syrah, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Franc.

It has nice blackberry aromas and flavors, though not overly jammy or fruit forward. Peppery undertone with a touch of chocolate, medium tannins, and a long black cherry finish. It is a rich and easy drinking Cabernet. I paired it with a steak (briefly air-dried in the freezer) and assorted vegetables, where it performed admirably.

The next day it was time to sample the 2009 Forefront Pinot Noir (not pictured on its own).
51% Santa Barbara, 41% San Luis Obispo, 8% Monterey Counties, all Pinot Noir.
$24, 14.5% abv.

At cellar temperature, it's soft with overripe strawberry aromas and flavors, short finish. As it warms, it becomes more tart and the tannins are more prevalent. There's a touch of brambles about it, but it's not heavy and provides a nice herbal undertone. I served it with grilled lamb.

I chose to serve the two white wines together with some seafood: fried grouper and stuffed quahog clams.

2009 Forefront Sauvignon Blanc
50% Sonoma, 32% Napa, 18% Mendocino, pure Sauvignon Blanc
$16, 13.5% abv

Tart with touches of grass and grapefruit, similar to a New Zealand style but not as acidic. Crisp and refreshing, and best at colder temperatures. Excellent match for the seafood, and better than hitting everything with a squeeze of lemon.

2009 Forefront Pinot Gris
Willamette Valley, Oregon
95% Pinot Gris, 5% Gewürztraminer
$16, 14.1% abv

I think this was my favorite out of all four wines. Smooth and well balanced, with a little green apple aroma and floral elements. Nice minerality and a short, clean finish. Great blend of round and tart, dry but just a hint of honey sweetness in the back. It was a lovely contemplative wine to enjoy both during and after dinner.

Note: These wines were received as samples from Forefront.


Anonymous said...

Bonjour Benito,

I'm pleased to see that you enjoy some of my favorite Pinot Noir wines from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.Even if I'm french, I love ALL differant wines from around the world , LOL
Two of my favorite Pinot Noir are, Montinore Vineyards, Reserve and Chehalem Vineyards which has a fantastic Pinot Noir as well.Both from the Willamette Valley.For me, some of the best wines around in the states, come from Washington and Oregon.

Trés amicalement,
Calvisson, France

Benito said...


The Pinot Noir here was from California, but the Pinot Gris was from Oregon. I do agree with you though that Oregon Pinot Noir is wonderful--mostly small producers, a great little climate, and not terribly expensive. It's certainly an easier starting point than Burgundy!

Likewise, I often think of Washington and Oregon when I have some of the small production wines from Western Australia. There are these neat little pockets of good soil and climate around the world, and it's wonderful to get to try them.